Now that you have established a relationship with your lender and received a pre-approval letter you are ready to start looking at houses. You may have reached out to a real estate agent for a lender referral, if so, then your agent is already aware you are ready for the next step in your home buying process.
If you haven't already, this is a great time to share your list of "must have's", "must not's", and "dream home" with your agent. Your agents will most likely send you a representation agreement. This document outlines the responsibilities of your agent and protects your interests in future negotiations because it is a binding agreement that your agent represents you, the buyer, and not the seller.
Your Buyer's Representative will review your list of preferences along with your pre-approval letter and begin to set up an automatic home search in the local MLS database (this is the same Data base used by most third party sources but is updated regularly, unlike those third party sources) that includes your specific home needs. This list can be generated and updated as often as needed. Once the initial list is sent to you, updated lists will show new listing as well as status changes of previous listings. This system allows you to mark the properties you like and leave notes about specific properties that your agent can review in order to provide feedback.
Once you have found three - five properties that are your top choices on paper, your agent can schedule private tours of the homes. It's important to limit the number of properties you visit in one day, it can be very over-whelming after the third house, be sure and take notes on the handouts of each property your agent provides for you. Your representative should be helping you to compare each property to establish which one will best meet your home needs.
Once you have found the home you want, your representative will discuss with you the details of your offer, guide you through the process and draw up the appropriate documents to send your best offer to the listing agent. Having a buyer's representative is vital at this stage to negotiate you the best deal that protects your interests while securing the overall goal - winning you the contract to purchase.
Once your buyer's representative has negotiated the terms and you have the executed contract your agent will guide you through each stage of the contract to close process. In our next installment of "what buyer's need to know" we will discuss the buying process after the contract is executed.